Existence is filled with happiness and suffering, but the amount of happiness and suffering is not guaranteed. Non-existence, on the other hand, has no happiness or suffering. Non-existence isn't good or bad, yet existence is labeled either good or bad. Why is it that existence must be labeled good or bad (or fulfilled/not fulfilled) with no middle ground, yet non-existence must remain neutral?

Here's one reason to think that not existing is neither good nor bad (this reasoning is due, roughly, to Epicurus): Non-existence is not a state of us -- it's not a state that one can be in. Moreover, it's not a state a person can experience or undergo. And if everything is good or bad for us only because of our experiencing it, non-existence can't be good or bad for us.

But not everyone thinks that 'non-existence' is neutral in this way. For one, many of us fear death, suggesting that we think it would be bad for us to be in a state of non-existence. Why that should be is somewhat mysterious -- indeed, Epicurus issued the argument above in order to persuade us we shouldn't fear death.

Another route to questioning the neutrality of non-existence runs like this: Some people are harmed by being brought into existence. (Imagine a person born into the worst possible life circumstances you can think of -- persistent and painful medical condition, poverty, parental neglect, etc.) If so, then it follows that those very people would have benefitted by not existing. Hence, non-existence isn't neutral but can be good for someone. By parallel reasoning, non-existence would be bad for those people whose lives are good enough that they were benefitted by being brought into existence.

Needless to say, this sort of reasoning is contentious: Epicureans are likely to wonder how non-existence can be good given that it's not a state we experience or undergo. But that's hard to square with our sense that being brought into existence can be good or bad for someone, from which it seems to follow (as we saw above) that non-existence isn't neutral either.

That should at least give you a sense that the 'neutrality' of non-existence is far from a settled matter in philosophy. You might investigate further by exploring the work of Derek Parfit (who denies, for metaphysical reasons having to do with personal identity, that existence or non-existence can be good or bad for someone), David Benatar (who holds that existence is necessarily bad and non-existence necessarily good), and Seana Shiffrin (who takes seriously the notion that someone can be wronged by being brought into existence even if her existence is good overall).

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